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HSE Prepares to Celebrate 40 Years of the Health & Safety At Work Act

June 20, 2014
Health and Safety

explosionThe Health & Safety At Work Act will turn 40 on the 31st of July and the HSE are set to celebrate a piece of legislation that has saved more lives than any other on the statute book.

As HSE Chair Judith Hackett points out, despite many issues along the way it has passed the test of time. “This year will mark 40 years since Health and Safety at Work Act received Royal Assent. Arguably it is one of the best pieces of legislation on the statute books, although we know it is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. It has protected millions of British workers and driven sharp reductions in incidents of occupational death, serious injury and ill health,” she said.

Described as a “bold and far reaching piece of legislation” by the HSE’s first Director General John Locke, the new legislation was initially rejected at the bill stage by the then Labour administration before finally receiving royal assent two months after one of Britain’s worst peacetime disasters, when twenty eight people were killed and 36 injured in an explosion which destroyed a large part of the Nypro (UK) chemical plant at Flixborough near Scunthorpe.

Recent statistics produced by the HSE show that since 1974 fatal injuries to employees have fallen 85% and non-fatal injuries have gone down by 77%. Last year there were 148 fatalities at work reported under RIDDOR.